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Deutsche Bank offices searched in money laundering probe



FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Roughly 170 criminal police officers, prosecutors and tax inspectors on Thursday searched six Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) offices in and around Frankfurt on money laundering allegations, the Frankfurt public prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past Deutsche Bank offices in London, Britain, December 5, 2013. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Investigators are probing the activities of two Deutsche Bank staff members who are alleged to have helped clients set up off-shore firms to launder money, the prosecutor’s office said.

Written and electronic business documents were seized from Deutsche Bank and further investigations are ongoing, it added.

Deutsche Bank confirmed the search, adding that it is fully cooperating with the authorities.

Its shares lost 2.7 percent by 0953 GMT.

A deeper probe of the bank was triggered after investigators reviewed so-called “Offshore-Leaks” and “Panama Papers”, the prosecutor said.

The so-called Panama Papers, which consist of millions of documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, were leaked to the media in April 2016.

Several Banks including Swedish lenders Nordea and Handelsbanken have already been fined by financial regulators for violating money laundering rules as a result of the papers.

Prosecutors are probing whether Deutsche Bank may have assisted clients to set up “Offshore-Companies” in tax havens so that funds transferred to accounts at Deutsche Bank could skirt anti money laundering safeguards.

In 2016 alone, over 900 customers were served by a Deutsche Bank subsidiary registered on the British Virgin Islands, generating a volume of 311 million euros.

The Deutsche Bank employees are accused of having breached their duties by neglecting to report money laundering suspicions about clients and offshore companies involved in tax evasion schemes, the prosecutors said.

Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Ludwig Burger and Edward Taylor